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    Free material for all competitive exams of 15th December

    Daily Current Affairs, 14 December 2017


    Role of women and women’s organization.

    Buenos Aires Declaration on Women and Trade



    Context: For the first time in the history of the World Trade Organization, WTO members and observers have endorsed a collective initiative to increase the participation of women in trade. In order to help women reach their full potential in the world economy, 118 WTO members and observers agreed to support the Buenos Aires Declaration on Women and Trade, which seeks to remove barriers to, and foster, women’s economic empowerment.

    Supporting WTO members and observers have specifically agreed to explore and find ways to best tackle barriers to trade, lack of access to trade financing and sub-optimal participation of women in public procurement markets.


    India’s stand:

    India, an influential WTO member, was among the minority group that chose not to endorse the move saying while it stoutly supports gender equality, it cannot concur with the view that gender is a trade-related issue. Agreeing to the proposition to link gender and trade could lead to advanced countries using their high standards in gender-related policies to not only curb exports from the developing world, but also indirectly restrict developing countries from incentivising their women citizens as part of measures to address developmental challenges.

    India also observed that gender-related discussions should take place at appropriate fora and not at the WTO, which is purely a trade-related body. Otherwise, it will set a precedent to bring in other non-trade issues such as labour and environment standards into the WTO’s ambit.



    Currently, many women worldwide stand on the sidelines of the economy. While women comprise about half of the global population, they generate only 37% of gross domestic product (GDP) and run only about a third of small and medium-sized enterprises. In some developing countries, female business ownership can dip as low as 3-6%. An International Trade Centre survey in 20 countries found that just one in five exporting companies is owned by women. In more than 155 countries, there is at least one law impeding economic opportunities for women. No country has managed to close the gender gap on economic participation and opportunity; progress is so slow it would take, at the current rate, 170 years to reach gender equality. It is also apparent that international trade and trade agreements affect women and men differently.


    About Buenos Aires Women and Trade Declaration:

    It was spearheaded by the governments of Iceland and Sierra Leone, as well as the International Trade Centre. It stemmed from efforts made by the Trade Impact Group of the International Gender Champions, a leadership network that brings female and male decision-makers together to break down gender barriers. The declaration seeks women’s economic empowerment by expeditiously removing barriers to trade.


    Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.

    Government to regulate ads on pre-natal sex



    Context: Nine years after it took upon itself the task of regulating ads and content relating to sex-determination tests banned under local law, the Supreme Court has now washed its hands of the matter and left it to the government to take care of such issues in consultation with the search engines. The court cited lack of expertise as a reason for this.



    The case had begun in 2008, when an activist filed a public interest litigation (PIL) to get the search engines to abide by local law which bans such tests to arrest the falling sex ratio in the country. The government had then set up a nodal body to act as the interface with the search engines on such complaints. The court had passed umpteen orders in which the court warned the engines that they should either follow local law or shut shop.


    About PCPNDT Act:

    The Pre-conception & Pre-natal Diagnostics Techniques (PC & PNDT) Act, 1994 was enacted in response to the decline in Sex ratio in India, which deteriorated from 972 in 1901 to 927 in 1991. The main purpose of enacting the act is to ban the use of sex selection techniques before or after conception and prevent the misuse of prenatal diagnostic technique for sex selective abortion.

    §  Offences under this act include conducting or helping in the conduct of prenatal diagnostic technique in the unregistered units, sex selection on a man or woman, conducting PND test for any purpose other than the one mentioned in the act, sale, distribution, supply, renting etc. of any ultra sound machine or any other equipment capable of detecting sex of the foetus.

    §  The act was amended in 2003 to improve the regulation of the technology used in sex selection. The Act was amended to bring the technique of pre conception sex selection and ultrasound technique within the ambit of the act.

    §  The amendment also empowered the central supervisory board and state level supervisory board was constituted. In 1988, the State of Maharashtra became the first in the country to ban pre-natal sex determination through enacting the Maharashtra Regulation of Pre-natal Diagnostic Techniques Act.


     Government policies and interventions for development in various

    sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation.



    SANKALP Project

    Context: The government has signed a Financing Agreement for IBRD loan of USD 250 million (equivalent) for the “Skills Acquisition and Knowledge Awareness for Livelihood Promotion (SANKALP) Project” with the World Bank.



    About SANKALP scheme:


    What is it? 

    SANKALP is a Centrally sponsored scheme. It is an outcome focused scheme marking shift in government’s implementation strategy in vocational education and training from inputs to results. SANKALP will provide market relevant training to 3.5 crore youth.

    Objective: The Objective of the project is to enhance institutional mechanisms for skills development and increase access to quality and market-relevant training for the work force.


    What it does?

    The scheme provides the required impetus to the National Skill Development Mission, 2015 and its various sub missions. It is aligned to flagship Government of India programs such as Make in India and Swachhta Abhiyan and aims at developing globally competitive workforce for domestic and overseas requirements.

    The Key result areas for the project include Institutional Strengthening at the National and State Levels for Planning, Delivering, and Monitoring High-Quality Market-Relevant Training; Improved Quality and Market Relevance of Skills Development Programs; Improved access to and completion of skills training for female trainees and other disadvantaged groups; and Expanding skills training through private-public partnerships (PPPs).


    Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.


    Legatum Prosperity Index


    Context: ‘The Legatum Prosperity Index 2017’, an annual ranking developed by the London-based Legatum Institute, has been released.


    About the Legatum Prosperity Index:

    The Legatum Prosperity Index is the world’s leading global measure of economic and social wellbeing that studies 104 indicators under these categories: Economic Quality, Business Environment, Governance, Personal Freedom, Social Capital, Safety and Security, Education, Health and Natural Environment. The Index offers a unique insight into how prosperity is forming and changing across the world.


    Key findings:

    Global prosperity at a record high: World prosperity increased in 2017 and now sits at its highest level in the last decade. It is now 2.6% higher than in 2007. Furthermore, prosperity growth has been faster from 2012 to 2017 than it was from 2007 to 2012. However, the gap between the highest and lowest scores in the Index has increased for five straight years and the spread between nations is growing, indicating that while prosperity as a whole may be increasing, not all countries are yet benefiting from the increase.

    Asia-Pacific makes the greatest gains: While prosperity improved around the world in 2017, no region grew as fast as Asia-Pacific. Gains came through a fast-improving Business Environment, especially in the population centres of India (100th), China (90th), Pakistan (137th) and Indonesia (59th). It is now easier to access credit, and intellectual property rights have improved.


    Improved government accountability: Every region in the world improved in Governance in 2017, with Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa rising fastest. Across the world judiciaries became more independent from state interference and the process of challenging governmental regulation became easier. People also became more confident in the outcome of elections.


    Decreasing Safety and Security in the MENA region: Despite gains in Social Capital and a strengthening Business Environment, overall prosperity in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) has suffered in recent years through worsening Safety and Security. Casualties from both war and terrorism have increased, along with a rise in state-sponsored violence.


    India and its neighbourhood- relations.


    Hambantota port



    Context: Sri Lanka has formally handed over its southern port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease, which government critics have denounced as an erosion of the country’s sovereignty.



    Sri Lanka, in July 2017, cleared a revised deal for the Chinese-built port in Hambantota. The modified agreement is believed to be more profitable to Sri Lanka and also addresses security concerns raised by other countries. As per the deal, while the Chinese would manage port operations, no naval ship, including Chinese ones, can call at Hambantota without Sri Lanka’s permission.


    Significance of Hambantota port for China:

    Hambantota is right in the middle of vital energy supply lines in the Indian Ocean, connecting the Middle East and East Asia. For Beijing, the Hambantota project is a linchpin of the “One Belt One Road” project, which aims to build a new Silk Road of trade routes between China and more than 60 countries in Asia, the Middle East, Africa and Europe. That project is underpinned by a network of harbours across the world that have put China in a position to challenge the US as the world’s most important maritime superpower. Other similar developments in the region include the Gwadar port in Pakistan, which is the centrepiece of the $55bn China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.


    Why is India concerned?

    Hambantota, which sits on Sri Lanka’s southern coast, provides access to critical Indian Ocean sea lanes. The acquisition of the port by China has spurred particular alarm in India, which is concerned about Beijing’s growing strategic and economic footprint in the Indian Ocean region.

    Important International institutions, agencies and fora, their structure, mandate.


    International Court of Justice (ICJ)


    Context: Pakistan has rejected India’s plea for consular access to death row prisoner Kulbhushan Jadhav at the ICJ, claiming that New Delhi wants the access to get the information gathered by its “spy”. In its counter-memorial submitted to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), Pakistan said the provision of such an access under the Vienna Convention is only for legitimate visitors and not for spies.

    India, however, maintains that Jadhav was kidnapped from Iran where he had business interests after retiring from the Navy.


    About ICJ:


    What is it?

    The International Court of Justice (ICJ) is the principal judicial body of the UN. Established in 1946 to replace the Permanent Court of International Justice, the ICJ mainly operates under the statute of its predecessor, which is included in the UN Charter.

    It has two primary functions: to settle legal disputes submitted by States in accordance with established international laws, and to act as an advisory board on issues submitted to it by authorized international organizations.


    Members of the Court:

    The International Court of Justice is composed of 15 judges elected to nine-year terms of office by the United Nations General Assembly and the Security Council. These organs vote simultaneously but separately. In order to be elected, a candidate must receive an absolute majority of the votes in both bodies. In order to ensure a measure of continuity, one third of the Court is elected every three years. Judges are eligible for re-election.


    Who nominates the candidates?

    Every state government, party to the Charter, designates a group who propose candidates for the office of ICJ judges. This group includes four members/jurists of the Permanent Court of Arbitration (machinery which enables arbitral tribunals to be set up as desired and facilitates their work) also picked by the State. Countries not part of the statute follow the same procedure where a group nominates the candidates.

    Each group is limited to nominate four candidates, two of whom could be of their nationality. Within a fixed duration set by the Secretary-General, the names of the candidates have to be sent to him/her.


    What are the qualifications of ICJ judges?

    §  A judge should have a high moral character.

    §  A judge should fit to the qualifications of appointment of highest judicial officers as prescribed by their respective states or.

    §  A judge should be a juriconsult of recognized competence in international law.


    The 15 judges of the Court are distributed as per the regions:


    §  Three from Africa.

    §  Two from Latin America and Caribbean.

    §  Three from Asia.

    §  Five from Western Europe and other states.

    §  Two from Eastern Europe.


    Independence of the Judges:


    Once elected, a Member of the Court is a delegate neither of the government of his own country nor of that of any other State. Unlike most other organs of international organizations, the Court is not composed of representatives of governments. Members of the Court are independent judges whose first task, before taking up their duties, is to make a solemn declaration in open court that they will exercise their powers impartially and conscientiously.


    In order to guarantee his or her independence, no Member of the Court can be dismissed unless, in the unanimous opinion of the other Members, he/she no longer fulfils the required conditions. This has in fact never happened.


    Awareness in the fields of IT, Space, Computers, robotics, nano-technology, bio-technology and issues relating to intellectual property rights.


    VoLTE services




    Context: Telecom major Bharti Airtel, as part of expanding its services, has launched Voice over Long Term Evolution (VoLTE) facility for its customers in Chennai. Airtel VoLTE works over 4G services that will enable customers across the city to enjoy HD quality voice calls with faster call set up time.



    Indian telecom players are battling tooth and nail to retain their competitive position in the market and VoLTE (Voice over Long Term Evolution) is their new mantra. It promises faster, better and wider data connectivity. India is witnessing a VoLTE revolution thanks to the competition stirred up by Reliance Jio.


    What is VoLTE?

    VoLTE stands for voice over Long Term Evolution. VoLTE is an Internet Protocol Multimedia Subsystem (IMS) specification which enables a variety of services to operate seamlessly on the network rather than having to switch to different applications for voice or video.


    How it works?

    VoLTE is a technology update to the LTE protocol used by mobile phone networks. Under LTE, the infrastructure of telecom players only allows transmission of data while voice calls are routed to their older 2G or 3G networks. This is why, under LTE, one cannot access 4G data services while on a call. This leads to problems such as slow internet speeds and poor voice clarity. VoLTE allows voice calls to be ‘packaged’ and carried through LTE networks. This would mean 4G data accessibility even during calls.


    Benefits of VoLTE:

    §  VoLTE provides a more efficient use of spectrum than traditional voice and increases handset battery life.

    §  VoLTE ensures that video services are fully interoperable across the operator community, just as voice services are, as demand for video calls grows.



    Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.


    Electronic/electrical waste in India





    The UN, in its latest report- Global E-waste Monitor 2017, has warned about the health and environmental dangers from the processing of e-waste — the discarded electronic and electrical material — by the informal sector in India without proper safeguards.


    The UN has made the following observations in its report:


    §  Over 1 million poor people in India are involved in manual recycling operations, but “most of these people have very low literacy levels with little awareness of the dangers of the operations.

    §  Severe health impacts and environmental damage are widespread in India, due to the final step of the e-waste processing by the informal sector. The dangers come from “improper and unsafe treatment and disposal through open burning or in dumpsites.

    §  The value of recoverable precious materials like gold, silver, copper, platinum and palladium contained in last year’s e-waste was $55 billion and much of it was going to waste.



    Domestically India produced 1.95 million tonnes of e-waste last year — or about 1.5 kg per person — and it also imports it from developed countries. Last year, the world produced 44.7 million tonnes of e-waste or 6.1 kg per person, which is four times more than the e-waste produced by each Indian. Only 8.9 million tonnes — or 20 per cent — per cent of total global e-waste was recycled.

    E-waste includes a whole variety of small and large appliances, and electronic equipment including cell phones, TVs, refrigerators, air conditioners, computers and lamps, small appliance and large appliances, lamps.


    Efforts by India:

    A formal e-waste recycling sector is now being developed in major Indian cities and under the country’s rules producers have extended responsibility for the handling the waste that ultimately results from their products. The main features of the regulations are a refundable deposit scheme that incentivises recycling and parallel to that is the creation of Producer Responsibility Organisations to handle the waste.


    Why it is difficult to manage e waste in India?

    §  The producers/manufacturers do not have adequate information on their website regarding e waste management.

    §  Customer care representatives do not have inkling about any take back or recycling programme and even if they have set up collection centres, they are simply not enough for a geographically vast country like India.


    §  India being a vast country, setting up collection mechanism is a big challenge. If any of the brands try individually to reach out to all corners of the country, it will economically not be sustainable or feasible.


    §  Improper enforcement of the existing laws is another hurdle.


    Way ahead:


    Looking ahead, the problem could become more acute with cheaper cell phones and other equipment becoming available. This means that more people will be able to afford purchasing new equipment, and that more equipment will eventually be discarded. Therefore, there is need for developing systems to safely handle the e-waste and recycle it.


    Security challenges and their management in border areas; linkages of organized crime with terrorism.


    Scorpene-class submarine Kalvari



    Context: India’s first modern conventional submarine, INS Kalvari, has been commissioned into Navy’s fleet.


    INS Kalvari- key facts:

    §  The diesel-electric submarine is designed by French naval defence and energy company DCNS. The submarine is named after the dreaded tiger shark, a deadly deep sea predator of the Indian Ocean.

    §  The submarine boasts of superior stealth features such as advanced acoustic silencing techniques, low radiated noise levels, hydro-dynamically optimised shape and the ability to launch a crippling attack on the enemy using precision-guided weapons.

    §  The submarine, which has a speed of 20 knots, is equipped with sea-skimming SM-39 Exocet missiles and heavy-weight wire-guided surface and underwater target torpedoes.



    Facts for Prelims:


    Amarnath cave declared a ‘silent zone’:

    In a bid to preserve the eco- sensitive Amarnath cave shrine in south Kashmir Himalayas, the National Green Tribunal has declared it a “silence zone” and prohibited religious offerings beyond the entry point. Declaring the area around the Amarnat cave shrine a “silence zone” would be helpful in preventing avalanches and maintaining its pristine nature.


    Significance of this move: The Amarnath cave shrine is considered to be one of the holiest in Hinduism. The cave itself is covered with snow most of the year except for a short period of time in summer when it is open for pilgrims. The Amarnath cave is located in a delicate ecosystem. The directions would make the Amarnath Yatra safe and convenient for the devotees. This would protect the shrine from degradation and ensure it is protected for the coming generations.


    Rajasthan becomes first in country to offer e-mail IDs in Hindi:

    Rajasthan has become the first state in the country to offer free e-mail address in Hindi to its residents. The facility —name@rajasthan.bharat (in Devanagari script) — will lead to millions of new users who are not comfortable with English e-mail ids. The initiative will ensure maximum participation of people towards e-governance and also that maximum facilities are available in vernacular language.


    Disqualification moves



    On December 4, the Chairman of Rajya Sabha disqualified two Members of Parliament (MPs) from the House under the Tenth Schedule of the Constitution (better known as the anti-defection law) for having defected from their party. These members were elected on a Janata Dal (United) ticket.

    The orders of the Chairman have established a benchmark, both in terms of speedy disposal as well as the quality of the decisions. 

    Allegations of legislators defecting in violation of the law have been made in several other states including Andhra Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Goa, Manipur, Nagaland, Telangana and Uttarakhand in recent years.


    Objective of Anti-defection law:

    The objective of the landmark anti-defection law of 1985 was to enhance the credibility of the country’s polity by addressing rampant party-hopping by elected representatives for personal and political considerations. 


    What is the anti-defection law?

    Aaya Ram Gaya Ram was a phrase that became popular in Indian politics after a Haryana MLA changed his party thrice within the same day in 1967. The anti-defection law sought to prevent such political defections.

    The Tenth Schedule was inserted in the Constitution in 1985 by the 52nd Amendment Act. It lays down the process by which legislators may be disqualified on grounds of defection by the Presiding Officer of a legislature based on a petition by any other member of the House.

    §  A legislator is deemed to have defected if he either voluntarily gives up the membership of his party or disobeys the directives of the party leadership (whip) on a vote.

    §  This implies that a legislator defying (abstaining or voting against) the party whip on any issue can lose his membership of the House.  

    §  As a pre-condition for his disqualification, his abstention from voting should not be condoned by his party or the authorised person within 15 days of such incident.

    §  The decision on question as to disqualification on ground of defection is referred to the Chairman or the Speaker of such House, and his decision is final. 

    §  The law applies to both Parliament and state assemblies.


    Exceptions under the law:

    Legislators may change their party without the risk of disqualification in certain circumstances.

    The law allows a party to merge with or into another party provided that at least two-thirds of its legislators are in favour of the merger. In such a scenario, neither the members who decide to merge, nor the ones who stay with the original party will face disqualification.


    How has the law been interpreted by the Courts while deciding on related matters?

    The Supreme Court has interpreted different provisions of the law.

    §  The law provides for a member to be disqualified if he/she ‘voluntarily gives up his membership’. However, the Supreme Court has interpreted that in the absence of a formal resignation by the member, the giving up of membership can be inferred by his conduct.

    §  In other judgments, members who have publicly expressed opposition to their party or support for another party were deemed to have resigned.


    In the case of the two JD(U) MPs who were disqualified from Rajya Sabha on December 4th, they were deemed to have ‘voluntarily given up their membership’ by engaging in anti-party activities which included criticizing the party on public forums on multiple occasions, and attending rallies organised by opposition parties in Bihar.


    Decision of the Presiding Officer is subject to judicial review 

    The law initially stated that the decision of the Presiding Officer is not subject to judicial review. This condition was struck down by the Supreme Court in 1992, thereby allowing appeals against the Presiding Officer’s decision in the High Court and Supreme Court. However, it held that there may not be any judicial intervention until the Presiding Officer gives his order.

    In 2015, the Hyderabad High Court, refused to intervene after hearing a petition which alleged that there had been delay by the Telangana Assembly Speaker in acting against a member under the anti-defection law.

    The Chairman is required either to proceed to determine the question himself or refer it to the committee of privileges for a preliminary inquiry. But reference to the committee is contingent upon the Chairman satisfying himself that it is necessary or expedient to do so; it is not mandatory.

    As a matter of fact, in several cases in the past, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha and the Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, whenever “the circumstances of the case” so warranted, have “determined the question” themselves, without referring it to the committee.


    Is there a time limit within which the Presiding Officer has to decide?

    The law does not specify a time-period for the Presiding Officer to decide on a disqualification plea. Given that courts can intervene only after the Presiding Officer has decided on the matter, the petitioner seeking disqualification has no option but to wait for this decision to be made.

    There have been several cases where the Courts have expressed concern about the unnecessary delay in deciding such petitions. In some cases this delay in decision making has resulted in members, who have defected from their parties, continuing to be members of the House.

    There have also been instances where opposition members have been appointed ministers in the government while still retaining the membership of their original parties in the legislature.

    In Andhra Pradesh, legislators of the main opposition party recently boycotted the entire 12-day assembly session.  This boycott was in protest against the delay of over 18 months in action being taken against legislators of their party who have allegedly defected to the ruling party.

    The Vice President, in his recent order disqualifying two JD(U) members stated that all such petitions should be decided by the Presiding Officers within a period of around three months.


    Does the anti-defection law affect the ability of legislators to make decisions?

    The anti-defection law seeks to provide a stable government by ensuring the legislators do not switch sides. However, this law also restricts a legislator from voting in line with his conscience, judgement and interests of his electorate. Such a situation impedes the oversight function of the legislature over the government, by ensuring that members vote based on the decisions taken by the party leadership, and not what their constituents would like them to vote for.

    Political parties issue a direction to MPs on how to vote on most issues, irrespective of the nature of the issue. Several experts have suggested that the law should be valid only for those votes that determine the stability of the government (passage of the annual budget or no-confidence motions).


    The significance of recent decision of Vice President

    Vice President’s orders assume significance in the context of instances where members have switched sides and became ministers in the governments, which are formed by parties against whom they contested and won.

    The chairman of Rajya sabha(Vice President) declared that those two defected had ceased to be members of the Rajya Sabha with immediate effect on account of having incurred disqualification under Tenth Schedule to the Constitution. 


    The orders of the Chairman have established a benchmark, both in terms of speedy disposal (about three months) as well as the quality of the decisions. Since the anti-defection law came into place, there have been a large number of cases where proceedings have dragged on for years.

    While delivering the order, Chairman made it clear that while dissent is a political right, it should be articulated appropriately without striking at the roots of the functioning of the party-based democratic system. 


    Way forward

    The defection cases should not be kept pending and dragged on by the Presiding Officers, with a view to save the membership of the persons, who have otherwise incurred disqualification or even to save the Government, which enjoys majority only because of such type of persons.


    All such petitions should be decided by the Presiding Officers within a period of around three months by giving an opportunity to the concerned Members (Seven days of time as per the Rule 7(3) of the Members of Rajya Sabha) against whom there are allegations, which lead to their disqualification under the Tenth Schedule to the Constitution of India so as to effectively thwart the evil of political defections, which if left uncurbed are likely to undermine the very foundations of our democracy and the principles which sustain it.




    • This submarine is the rst indigenously built Scorpene-class submarine to be commissioned into the Indian navy - INS Kalvari

    • The National Energy Conservation Day is celebrated on this day - 14 December

    • This bollywood actor, writer and director, passed away on 14 December after being in coma for over a year - Neeraj Vora

    • These two nations met recently to overcome the World War II legacy that soured relations between them - Ukraine and Poland

    • This Indian cricketer became the rst-ever batsman to score 3 double centuries in ODIs - Rohit Sharma

    • This Indian actor was honoured with the 2017 Mother Teresa Memorial Award - Priyanka Chopra

    • United Nations ‘World Economic Situation and Prospects 2018’ report forecasted GDP growth for India for 2018 at - 7.2 per cent

    • Person appointed as the Executive Director of Reserve Bank of India recently - Uma Shankar

    • This sports activity was referred to the ve-judge Constitution bench for determining whether it is cultural right within Article 29 of the Constitution - Jallikattu

    • Indian conferred with the inaugural Diwali "Power of One" award of the UN - Laxmi puri

    • India was ranked at this position in terms of mobile internet speed in the Speedtest Global Index released by Ookla - 109

    • Feminism was named as the word of the year 2017 by - Merriam-Webster




    Hotels, restaurants can sell bottled water above MRP stated by Supreme Court on - 13th December 2017

    ·         Amarnath Cave shrine declared  a Silent Zone by - NGT

    ·         INS Kalvari, first Scorpene-class submarine commissioned into Indian Navy on - 14th November 2017

    ·         Sri Lanka hands over Hambantota port to China on - 9th December 2017

    ·         MoU signed between India and Morocco - for enhanced cooperation in healthcare




    Hotels, restaurants can sell bottled water above MRP stated by Supreme Court on - 13th December 2017


    The Supreme Court on 13th December 2017 gave orders that hotels and restaurants are not bound by MRP in selling packed bottled water. Thus, hotels and restaurants can sell the packed bottled water more than MRP.
    A bench led by Justice Rohinton F Nariman governed the provisions of Legal Metrology Act, 2009 will not be significant on hotels and restaurants selling packed water bottles and therefore, hotels cannot be put on trial for selling mineral water more than MRP.
    The apex court noticed that selling packed water bottles is not a case of a simple sale because none of person goes to the hotel to buy a bottle of mineral water. There are composite factors of sale and service in hotels and restaurants wherein customers also enjoy the ambience formed by these commercial buildings. 

    Did you know?

    The Supreme Court was hearing a petition filed by the Federation of Hotel and Restaurant Associations of India against Delhi High Court orders which explained that hotels and restaurants in the NCR cannot sell packed water bottles mineral water more than MRP. 
    Therefore, the Union Government released affidavit against FHRAI explaining that selling bottled mineral water more than MRP will allured monetary penalty and jail term for the management staff of restaurants, hotels and multiplexes according to Legal Metrology Act, 2009.


    Amarnath Cave shrine declared  a Silent Zone by – NGT

    In order to protect the eco-sensitive Amarnath cave, the National Green Tribunal announced it a silence zone and banned religious offerings such as hymns chanting and ringing bells near the entry point.
    The Amarnath cave temple is located in the Himalayas in the state ofJ&K.
    The NGT bench headed by chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar instructed that Amarnath Shrine Board should make it sure that adequate infrastructural solutions are given to the pilgrims so that they are not deprived of a sound and comfortable darshan, and the ecosystem of the area is not affected.

    Important key points

    The NGT stated that nobody would be permitted to bring anything off the stairs towards the sacred cave and everybody should be properly examined at the entry gate.

    The green panel instructed the shrine board to withdraw the iron grills in front of the ice stalagmite similar to the Shiva Linga so that followers could get a better visibility of it.

    ·         The NGT prohibited any personal material, including phones, after the last checkpoint. It instructed the shrine board to build a safe place for keeping devotees belongings.

    ·         The green panel also instructed the committee of experts led by an additional secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Forests to submit an action plan on giving facilities to the devotees within 3 weeks.

    Did you know?

    ·         The NGT, In November this year, knocked the Amarnath Shrine Board for not giving proper facilities to pilgrims going to Amarnath.

    ·         The green panel also questioned the Amarnath Shrine Board about non-compliance with the instructions issued by the Supreme Court in 2012 and asked the board about their what actions taken in following years.

    ·         The bench instructed the experts committee to submit a details on providing a adequate path and announcing the cave shrine a silence zone


    INS Kalvari, first Scorpene-class submarine commissioned into Indian Navy on - 14th November 2017

    INS Kalvari, the 1st of the Scorpene-class submarines, was hired by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 14th December 2017.
    The hiring ceremony was held at the Naval Dockyard in Mumbai, which was witnessed by Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman, Navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba and leading defence officers.

    Key Highlights

    ·         The war ship is the first of 6 such submarines that will be installed into the Indian Navy. It appears as a significant victory for the Make in India initiative.

    ·         The submarines are being indigenously manufactured by the Mazagaon Dockyard Ltd in Mumbai under Project 75 in cooperation with French industrial group DCNS.

    ·         Kalvari, a diesel-electric attack submarine, is recommended as India’s deadliest submarine and is supposed to bolster India’s maritime skills.

    ·         The vessel had undergone around 120 days of extensive sea test and trails for different equipment’s.


    Did you know?

    ·         It is named after the 1st Foxtrot-class submarine Kalvari that was introduced into the Indian Navy on 8th December 1967.

    ·         It was withdrawn on 31st May 1996 after almost 3 decades of service.

    More about Scorpene-Class Submarines

    ·         The submarines are outlined by French naval defence and energy company DCNS and are being assembled by Mazagon Dock Limited in Mumbai.

    ·         India selected the Scorpene blueprint in 2005, purchasing 6 submarines for US$3 billion under Project 75.

    ·         The Scorpène class submarines have the ability to fire Exocet anti-ship missiles.

    ·         India idea to include the DRDO-developed air independent propulsion system onto the previous 2 submarines being manufactured.


    Sri Lanka hands over Hambantota port to China on - 9th December 2017

    Sri Lanka on 9th December 2017 officially handed over the strategic southern port of Hambantota to China on a 99-year lease and got USD 292 million out of USD 1.12 billion contract signed between both the nations in July 2017.
    2 Chinese firms Hambantota International Port Group and Hambantota International Port Services handled by the China Merchants Port Holdings Company and the Sri Lanka Ports Authority will retain the port and the investment areas around it. 


    Hambantota as a major port in the Indian Ocean

    ·         Hambantota will now be changed to a major port in the Indian Ocean. There will be an economic area and industrialisation in the zone will lead to economic progress and will promote tourism.

    ·         The port is supposed to play an important role in China’s One Belt and One Road initiative, which will connect ports and roads between China and Europe.

    ·         However, Sri Lanka elucidated that the port will not be utilized as a military base by any foreign nation. This comes as a relaxation for India’s security concerns over the Chinese navy’s existence in Sri Lanka.

    ·         Hambantota Port: A Medium for Sri Lanka to pay off its debts .With this deal dubbed as a sell-out by the criticism and trade unions, Sri Lanka focuses to shed off the debts of USD 8 billion it owes to China.

    ·         The USD 1.5 billion port was inaugurated in 2010, but was incurring losses because of lack of commercial actions.

    ·         Sri Lanka, currently, decided to give 80% stake to the Chinese organizations. However, this triggered resistance by trade unions and opposition groups pressurising the government to bound China’s role to run commercial activities.

    ·         After that, both the sides negotiated to redraw the agreement and signed a USD 1.12 billion agreement in July 2017 in which Sri Lanka sold 70% stake in the Hambantota port to China.


    MoU signed between India and Morocco - for enhanced cooperation in healthcare

    India signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Morocco on 14th December 2017 to enable enhanced cooperation in the health areas.
    The accordance was signed by Union Health and Family Welfare Minister J P Nadda and Morocco’s Health Minister, Abdelkader Amara in the presence of top officials from the Union Health Ministry and the visiting high- level commission from the North African country.
    Talking on the occasion, J P Nadda told that both the countries share a strong and healthy traditional
    relationship. He underlined that India is the manufacturer of quality generic medicines and drugs that are exported to approximately 200 countries and has a powerful public health system observed through National Health Mission.
    The MoU will facilitate both the countries work together in recognized areas of cooperation as there is a lot that each can provide to the other in the area of health.

    Following are the main areas of cooperation:

    • Non-communicable diseases, for example child cardiovascular diseases and cancer.
    • Drug Regulation and Pharmaceutical Quality Control.
    • Communicable Diseases.
    • Maternal, child and neonatal health.
    • Hospital twinning for the interchange of good practices.
    • Training in administration and management of health facilities and Hospitals.
    • Apart from this, another MoU was signed between India’s Jawaharlal Institute of Post Graduate Medical Education and Research, Puducherry and Morocco’s Marrakech Mohamed VI University Hospital in the presence of both the Politicians.
    • Under the accordance, both the Institutes agreed to cooperate in the field of telemedicine with main aimed areas being Tele-Health Care, technical support in controlling epidemics, Health Education and help in rendering the 2nd opinion on different complicated cases.




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